In my family, there are two words for hot sauce. Salsa is the word for the sauce we use to give other food an extra flavor during the cooking process. Normally this is not too spicy. Chile is the one we use as a condiment after the food has been cooked. We like this very hot and we add it to almost everything on our plate. We've learned that here in United States, most people refer to chile as salsa so now, we too call it salsa.
We like all kinds of salsa but we have our favorite - chile de molcajete! This salsa is made by mashing the ingredients in a molcajete (mortar) with a tejolote (pestle) made out of lava rock. There is something about this rock that gives salsa a unique flavor. It doesn't matter who makes it or what kind of peppers are used, it is always good. In the last few years, we leave it to my brother-in-law, Juan to make this salsa. We call it "el chile de Juan" and every one laughs because it has a double meaning that every Mexican can understand. I'm a little embarrassed to say it... but it means Juan's penis (Mexicans always add a double meaning to words, it is part of the culture.)
I make chile de molcajete mostly for special occasions but, I bought some beautiful tomatoes at Little Italy Mercato and decided to make some. Here is one recipe:
de Molcajete with Toasted Pepitas
10 small dry red peppers
1/4 c. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 garlic cloves
2-3 large tomatoes
2 T. cilantro - finely chopped (optional)
In a dry cast iron griddle (I always use my aluminum griddle) toast the seeds and the peppers being careful not to burn them. Remove from the griddle and set aside. With out peeling the garlic, roast it in the same griddle. Remove from the griddle when the paper starts to burn; set aside. Next, roast the tomatoes until they become soft and the skin blackens and blisters. While the tomatoes are roasting, place the pepitas and peppers in the molcajete and mash them down with the tejolote until they form a dry paste. Remove paper from garlic, add to the molcajete and continue mashing. Add the tomatoes and continue mashing down. Add salt to taste. The salsa should have a consistency of a thick and chunky purée. I did not use cilantro this time but if using, stir in the cilantro at this point. Enjoy with corn chips or add to your favorite tacos.
Chile de Molcajete
En un comal (Yo siempre uso mi comal de aluminio), tostar las semillas y los chiles con cuidado de no quemar. Retirar del comal. En el mismo comal, asar el ajo sin pelar. Remover del comal cuando la cascara se comience a quemar. A continuación, asar los tomates hasta que se ablanden y la piel se ampolle y queme un poco. Mientras que los tomates se asan, poner las pepitas y los chiles en el molcajete y moler con el tejolote hasta que formen una pasta seca. Pelar el ajo, añadirlo al molcajete y continuar moliendo. Añadir los tomates y continuar moliendo. Añadir sal al gusto. La salsa debe tener una consistencia de un puré espeso y grueso. Esta vez yo no use cilantro pero si se utiliza, agregarlo en este momento. Disfruta con totopos de maíz o añade a tus tacos favorito.